What is the best place to sell online?

Helen Parker StockshiftersHelen Parker CEO of the bulk wholesale and clearance marketplace Stockshifters has been looking at all the routes to market for selling stock to consumers.

Today she is sharing her findings based on where their 100,000 customers see the most success in selling their stock at a profit.
 

eBay or Amazon?

marketplacesYou’ve purchased stock, you’re sure you’ve got a good price, where do you sell it to maximise your profits in the quickest amount of time?

Since the massive press reaction to ‘fee hikes’ on Amazon, there has been a lot of commentary on the benefits of selling on eBay or Amazon. Interestingly previous to this announcement we had already seen our buyers report a 7% increase in selling on eBay, and a 25% decrease in selling on Amazon for Q4 2012 vs Q1 2013.

eBay has put a lot of effort over the past couple of years in improving the service offering, and seller protection – our customers frequently say that this has made a discernible difference to the ease and rate of sale. However, the majority of data shows that a significant proportion of sellers (especially those with higher volumes of stock) use both channels, deciding where to sell on a line by line basis.

As an example on both sides with Consumer Electronics one of our biggest traders reported “We had 200 laptops that had been on eBay for weeks, we posted them on Amazon, at a higher price, and they were all sold within days at a higher return, even after fees”. But, a clothing buyer who recently purchased a clothing lot from a top retailer stated “I made the effort to try Amazon, but it didn’t really work, I then tried eBay, I’ve now sold half the stock in 4 weeks, and am already in profit”.

eBay Amazon
Strength Areas Clothing
Graded stock
Easy to start
Personalised descriptions
Branded Electronics
Management Tools and Selling Guides
Fulfilment by Amazon
Free trials on own website
Weaknesses Low return
Competition squeezes margins
Aggressive buyers post sale
Difficult to start – especially clothing
Price of selling

Understanding where your stock is likely to sell, and at which will get the best price, will depend on the product and the amount of time you have to put in to managing your sales. Some advice is available on sites such as Tamebay, or The Wholesale Forums, but the best way to find out will be in trying, and learning from your own experiences.

What about setting up your own website?

22% of our buyers also run their own website to sell stock. These are a mix of ‘catalogue’ sites, simply showcasing stock, and ‘eShops’ where payments can be taken. In the past 5 years, the ease in setting up a simple website has revolutionised. 10 years ago, companies were being fleeced in the £10k-£20k mark just for an inexperienced developer to set up a 2-3 page website for them. Now, companies such as WordPress offer out of the box, quick, easy to manage solutions.

From personal experience building websites, I would always recommend finding a solution which is quick and out-the-box which is easy to change and build on. Technology means markets change quickly, and if your website takes off, you want to be able to adapt to your customer needs fast. It’s far better to prove the model, check it works and then invest. It’s low risk, and stops you sticking with the wrong route just because you’ve spent money on it and you need to make a return. Alternatively, our buyers give great feedback on the Amazon Webstore offering, you have to pay commission on sales, but it is a non-amazon URL and can really look and feel like your own website.

How about multi-channel e-commerce?

62% of our buyers report using more than one channel to sell their stock, 32% use 3 or more. This approach is a sensible one, which ensures you can adapt to pockets of success, but you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket, so minimise your risk.

Try multi-channel routes, ultilising different solutions for each situation – this can easily be done now using posting software such as Brightpearl, ChannelAdvisor or eSellerPro. Especially if you are starting out, set up as an eBay Seller, Amazon Seller and establish yourself with a cheap supporting website.

There are also other options which may work dependent on the product – preloved.co.uk, ASOS marketplace, facebook, and the traditional routes of car boot and market stalls. The beauty of the internet and mobile, is it has opened up the possibility of accessing millions of consumers at relatively low cost – think how long it would have taken 30 years ago to stand on a market stall and speak to even a fraction of the people you can access on eBay and Amazon!

Why would you not maximise your reach and show your stock on as many platforms as possible?